Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Predictors Of Inaccurate Online Breast Cancer Information

Date:
February 13, 2008
Source:
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Summary:
In an extended analysis of Web pages dedicated to disseminating breast cancer information, researchers have determined that while most breast cancer data found online was accurate, one in 20 breast cancer Web pages featured inaccuracies, and sites displaying complementary and alternative medicine were 15 times more likely to contain false or misleading health information.

In an extended analysis of Web pages dedicated to disseminating breast cancer information, researchers at two University of Texas institutions in the Houston have determined that while most breast cancer data found online was accurate, one in 20 breast cancer Web pages featured inaccuracies and sites displaying complementary and alternative medicine were 15 times more likely to contain false or misleading health information.

Published in the March 15 issue of Cancer, the study was conducted by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in collaboration with researchers at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston (SHIS) as one of a series of studies to determine whether existing quality assessment tools can identify false or inaccurate breast cancer information available online.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project estimates that more patients seek health information online rather than visit a physician.

According to Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., associate professor of surgery at M. D. Anderson, many of her patients have gone on the Internet for education and are savvy in their breast cancer knowledge even before their first appointment with her.

"Often it's clearly a benefit. For example, I've had patients who were recommended mastectomies that were really breast conservation candidates. They actually figured this out by going online and then seeking out surgeons capable of performing the surgery," says Meric-Bernstam, the study's senior and corresponding author. "In contrast, there are times patients read about treatments that clearly do not apply to them, which can increase their level of anxiety or expectations for a treatment that they are not a candidate for. Of course, one also worries about patients who go online and then ultimately do not seek out any treatment despite it being necessary."

In total, 343 Web pages, retrieved using search engines that consumers are likely to use, were analyzed. Each was reviewed for 15 quality criteria, including display of authorship, date of creation and last modification. It was important that the quality criteria be "reproducible," says the study's first author Elmer Bernstam, M.D., an associate professor at both SHIS and The University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Forty-one inaccurate statements were found on 18 of the different Web sites, or 5.2 percent.

"Consumers are taught to look for Web sites where the author's credentials are identified, his or her affiliations are disclosed and other information is listed," said Bernstam, an internist. "But none of this ensures accuracy."

A more positive finding is that the breast cancer information available on the Internet is more accurate than other fields of health information, says Meric-Bernstam.

The authors recognize that while much has changed in terms of the wealth of information about health available on the Internet since the data was collected in 2004, the issue regarding specific quality criteria is timely.

"The question that we really tried to answer was if we could separate Web sites that have misinformation from Sites that have more accurate content. No combination of the criteria allowed us to differentiate the Web sites with accurate information versus those that did not," Bernstam said.

Using such quality criteria, the researchers ultimately hope to develop a screening or automated tool to help consumers eliminate sites with misinformation.

"However, our current recommendation to patients is to be skeptical, make sure what patients read is applicable to their specific medical well-being and not to take action without consulting a clinician," says Meric-Bernstram.

Article: "Commonly Cited Website Quality Criteria Are Not Effective at Identifying Inaccurate Online Information About Breast Cancer." Elmer V. Bernstam, Muhammad F. Walji, Smitha Sagaram, Deepak Sagaram, Craig W. Johnson, and Funda Meric-Bernstam. Cancer; Published Online: February 11, 2008 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.23308); Print Issue Date: March 15, 2008.

The study was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Research Resources and a training fellowship from the W. M. Keck Center for Interdisciplinary Biosciences Training.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Predictors Of Inaccurate Online Breast Cancer Information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211083614.htm>.
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. (2008, February 13). Predictors Of Inaccurate Online Breast Cancer Information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211083614.htm
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. "Predictors Of Inaccurate Online Breast Cancer Information." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211083614.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins